The penultimate episode of this season of 'True Blood' is overflowing with sweat, blood and tears. "Life Matters" juxtaposes Terry Bellefleur's emotional funeral with a violent escape from Vamp Camp. It's all about goodbyes this week, both tear-jerking (RIP, Terry) and stomach-churning (holy castration, Eric!). New York Magazine raves, "From concept to execution, 'Life Matters' was very likely True Blood's finest episode to date."
Steve and Sarah Newlin bid adieu to Bon Temps. Alas, Steve's departure is permanent. Although he meets the true death, Rolling Stone declares that by proclaiming his love for Jason Stackhouse in his final moment, "Steve Newlin gets the last laugh… Ryan Kwanten's WTF? reaction was only the beginning of his incredible performance this episode." "Goodbye, Steve Newlin," muses The A.V. Club, "You were enjoyable even in death."
With one ex melted into a puddle of goo, Sarah Newlin's slips through another's merciful hands. "I'm guessing there'll be some fans mad she didn't meet her maker," notes Entertainment Weekly, but Sarah's release "represents growth for Jason, and Sarah is too fun a character to lose." Rolling Stone is pleased with Sarah's great escape: "I'm glad to see Sarah and her 1986 hair will live to see another episode, if not another season." In an interview with HBO.com, actress Anna Camp hypothesizes that "being sent away will make Sarah more powerful in a sense. She'll shut down and become a robot for God."
Sarah's not the only one fleeing the scene. Eric starts the episode on a bloody crusade. "He daywalks into Vamp Camp, turns loose the prisoners and rips! the! junk! off! of the torture doc who infected Nora with hep V," TV Line exclaims. Entertainment Weekly adds, "That's right up there with Eric ripping a heart out and drinking from it like a Capri Sun." As his friends frolic, high on Billith's blood, Eric flies the coop (literally). "When Eric sailed up into that blue sky it felt like nothing less than a hero's farewell," gushes New York Magazine. "A character who began as a taciturn, self-involved bar owner was now a full-blown vampire superhero with a bigger destiny."
Terry Bellefleur also receives a fitting goodbye. In this week's Inside the Episode, showrunner Brian Buckner explains that Terry's military memorial had personal significance for him. It was "the funeral I never got to have for my dad," Buckner says. The A.V. Club mourns Terry, noting "Throughout his six years on the show he grew more than maybe any other person in a mostly straight trajectory toward personal betterment, marrying Arlene and starting a family." Rolling Stone calls Arlene and Terry "the couple that sets the standard in the 'True Blood' universe." Buckner notes that the funeral was a way for viewers and characters to "stop and feel on a show that doesn't sometimes stop and feel." It's a sentiment perhaps most clearly channeled through Big John's hymn. New York Magazine reflects, "Sometimes the background characters are what make a world, and the world of Bon Temps has never felt more vibrant."
With Terry in the ground and the vamps in the sun, all bets are off for next week's season finale. What will become of Eric? Will Sookie keep her promise to Warlow? Check out a preview below and share your theories in the comments.
I want @Carrie_Preston in a black veil following me everywhere I go. To the grave, to whole foods, to the bed. Rowr! Hot O'Mitey!— Todd Lowe (@Todd__Lowe) August 12, 2013
Sound Bites of the Week
- "I love you ... Jason Stackhouse!" - Steve Newlin
- "Thank you, Big John. That was the shit." - Arlene
- "Seriously, I'm gnawing at my own arm, and you're gonna drop fang on me?" – Sookie
OD on V
- Forget meth. See 9 Reasons Why V is the Drug of Choice.
- In an interview with TV Guide, Deborah Ann Woll shares that she thought Jessica was dead meat: "When I read about what I did to Andy's daughters, my first thought was, 'I don't know how Jessica Hamby and Andy Bellefleur can be on the same show after something like that. One of them is going to have to go.' "
- If you want to chug a Raging Bitch during next week's finale, play along with Hypable's finale drinking game.